Wednesday, November 2, 2011

20 Small Steps Toward an Easier Day – Fifteen Minutes at a Time

SimpleMom had some great tips for moms who are looking for a way to make their days a little easier!

by Kara on March 14, 2011

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The following is by editor Kara Fleck.

I hope you have been enjoying our month long theme of rhythm and routines as much as I have. The discussions and questions that have come up in the comments have been very thought-provoking. I thank you for your feedback, especially the way you’ve been responding to each other.

Before we delve into this topic further, I want to remind readers that there is no “one size fits all.” What is one family’s simple solution might be another family’s complication. Life at your home doesn’t look exactly like life at my home, or the Simple Kids contributor’s homes, or your neighbor’s home, or even your sister’s.

Your routine must reflect your own family’s individual circumstances and season of life in order to best serve you.

I hope by sharing examples from our lives of what works – and doesn’t work – for us, that the contributors and I are inspiring you and giving you some ideas that you can take and apply to your own lives.

My goal is to get you thinking about ways you can make things easier for yourselves and help life flow smoother for your families.

Photo by Kara Fleck

I also want to gently remind you, in case you are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, that most of the families I know who have steady rhythm and routines in place didn’t get there in a day or even in a week. These routines evolved over time.

With that in mind, I thought this was a good time to revisit an article I wrote last year on Small Steps, Big Changes: the idea of keeping it simple and giving yourself small, manageable goals that are realistic.

Specifically, these are changes you can make fifteen minutes at a time.

Making over your entire day all at once? A daunting task. Making small changes, with big benefits, just 15 minutes at a time? Now that is something you can do!

Changes You Can Make, Fifteen Minutes at a Time

Not every item on this list will apply to every family, of course. Today I’m offering twenty ideas for you to pick and choose from as you make small changes in the flow of your days.

Here are the original 10 changes:

  1. Spend 15 minutes preparing the night before for the day ahead
  2. Set your clock for 15 minutes earlier in the morning
  3. Get in the habit of spending 5 minutes immediately after each meal washing the dishes with your child (3 meals a day = 15 minutes)
  4. Start your bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier in the evening
  5. Spend 15 minutes outside with your child and work your way up to an hour (or more!)
  6. Do 15 minutes of structured play or crafting with your child
  7. Spend 15 minutes reading to your child.
  8. Take in 15 minutes of peace and quiet. Do nothing. Slow down.
  9. Have a 15 minute Tea Time or After School Snack with your child
  10. Set one 15 minute toy pick-up at the end of the day (or three 5 minute toy pick-ups during the day)

Photo by Kara Fleck

And here are 10 more changes you can make, fifteen minutes at a time …

  1. Take time after each meal to set the table for the next meal (3 meals = 15 minutes)
  2. Spend 15 minutes the night before filling up sippy cups and/or bottles, so they are in the fridge and ready to go in the morning (for younger kids)
  3. Spend 15 minutes after dinner packing lunch for the next day (for older kids)
  4. Take 15 minutes and designate an assigned spot for library materials so that you don’t have to spend time searching for them every week when they are due (Bonus: take 15 minutes and read some of the great advice readers gave me last year when I was looking to get my family off of the library’s “most wanted” list)
  5. Spend 15 minutes at the beginning of the week going over the calendar – include your spouse and older children so that everyone knows what is on the agenda for the week.
  6. This Spring, take 15 minutes and attack your clutter with this week’s Project Simplify assignment at Simple Mom. Just 15 minutes a day will add up to a big difference in just a few weeks’ time!
  7. Give yourself a 15 minute break before dinner to relax, meditate, and take some time for peace and quiet before one of the busiest times of day begins (a wise suggestion from contributor Jaimie last week).
  8. Lay out the next day’s clothing for yourself and your children the night before.
  9. Are you already getting up 15 minutes earlier than you kids? Great! Now I challenge you to get up 15 minutes earlier than that to give yourself a half an hour of quiet time in the morning. Looking for some motivation in this area? Check out Kat’s Hello Mornings on Inspired to Action.
  10. Spend 15 minutes a day this week getting your family’s paperwork and important documents organized. A couple of suggestions for this are to build a Home Management Notebook (my friend Mandi has some great printables to help you do this at Life Your Way) or, if you prefer paperless planning, as I do these days, check out the resources at AboutOne and see if they might be a good fit for you.

Pick one fifteen minute change or pick a handful, but please do consider these small steps toward big changes in your routine.

Good luck!

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